LePage Withdraws Support of TRC

5:23 PM, Apr 5, 2013   |    comments
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AUGUSTA -- (News Center) Governor Paul LePage says he is withdrawing his support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The TRC is beginning a three year process of examining the issues surrounding decades of federal and state policy that led to native Maine children being removed from their homes and sent to live with white families without parental or tribal permission.

LePage, who had given heartfelt support of the process and who signed the Mandate that formed the historic joint effort by both tribes and the State, says he cannot support the TRC if Secretary of State Matt Dunlap continues to serve as one of the five Commissioners.

The Governor says, quote "Mr. Dunlap holds a fiduciary and ethical relationship of trust with the State of Maine as its Secretary of State ... {so} the Governor believes the independence of the commission is compromised. Mr. Dunlap's capacity as Secretary of State makes it impossible for him to serve independently or in a personal capacity as commissioner."

Dunlap responded today, saying, "I don't agree. The Commission has no plenary power: We cannot charge anyone with a crime, we cannot grant immunity, we cannot assess damages, we cannot stipulate policy. We can only make recommendations. I would implore the Governor to remember this is about children ... and about healing."

Dunlap tells News Center that he brought up the issue while being interviewed by the TRC Convening panel, which chose the five Commissioners. The panel included representatives chosen by the Governor. Dunlap says he was told there were no concerns about conflict of interest.

TRC staff says the Governor has not been in touch with them, "So we are working under the assumption that the State is still on board and we will move forward as planned."

The Governor stresses that this "is not a reflection on Mr. Dunlap's qualifications" - that he feels Dunlap "would make an excellent TRC Comissioner if he were not Secretary of State."

The Governor's Press Secretary, Adrienne Bennett, says State agencies and workers will still participate in the process.

If you would like more information on the TRC, click here.




































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